Our diocese will send 11 young people – nine youth and two young adults – to General Convention, accompanied by two chaperones. Each participant is involved in his or her home congregation, and about half are active in diocesan youth ministry as well. While at General Convention they will attend legislative hearings in the House of Bishops and House of Deputies, participate in committee hearings and worship, meet other church leaders and observe our church’s polity.
The chaperones are Kaileen Alston, diocesan Director of Youth & Young Adult Ministries, and the Rev. Robert Browning, Rector of Grace Church, Rutherford. The young people come from the following congregations:
Christ Church, East Orange
St. Stephen’s, Millburn
St. John’s, Montclair
St. Luke’s, Montclair
House of Prayer, Newark
Christ Church, Short Hills
Holy Trinity, West Orange
When they applied to represent the diocese at this significant gathering of The Episcopal Church, these young people expressed their love for the Church as they know it as well as a curiosity to learn more about the Church’s diversity. They understand that people within our denomination have varying viewpoints on critical issues including stewardship of the environment, LGBT inclusion and evangelism. They’re eager to see how the wider church works through these differences in a Christ-like manner, respecting the dignity of every human being.
This is the fourth time I will be taking young people to General Convention and the experience has always been powerful. In fact, the four young people who were elected as diocesan lay deputies or alternates to the 2012 and 2015 General Conventions had all attended previous conventions with me, as observers. This opportunity allowed them to see the work, worship and fellowship of the church from a different angle – and they were inspired!
These young people, and their chaperones, are committed to living lives of which Jesus would be proud. They know deep within their bones that our Church can make a difference in people’s lives – and they can, too. What a blessing to be able to assist them in their growing discipleship and evangelism!